It was Guy Fawkes day last week. In Australia this day is not celebrated, however in New Zealand where I was born, Guy Fawkes is still celebrated, although in a smaller more regulated way than 35 years ago when I was a boy.
One of my earliest memories was when I was 5 years old and my older sister going to a fireworks party. At night! I begged her to bring any used crackers home. She came home when it seemed very dark, and opened my door and left a bag just inside. I was up in a flash, light on, exploring my new treasures. There were at least 10 rockets with all the black soot still flowing from the now extinguished tubes. Mostly I was fascinated by all the colours and the smell. Intoxicating.
I placed them carefully all around, and in my bed, and fell asleep. Yes, mum nearly passed out the next morning on seeing my now blackened sheets and floor, but that day was the start of my first obsession, followed in the years ahead by stamps, coins, beer cans, rugby programs, rugby books and a flirtation with baseball and sports trading cards. If it was collectable I wanted in.
There were various types of fire crackers from the smallest Tom Thumbs up to the larger rockets and Catherine Wheels. I knew them all and more importantly, I knew the origin of them all. Made in China was my favorite with the wrappers in a foreign tongue . Imagine these firecrackers coming over on a boat, all the way from China, I would tell friends. I eagerly awaited each year, the day after Guy Fawkes when I would eagerly scout the local streets collecting the used crackers. If any kid at school ever needed to know the country of origin of any cracker then I was the go to man . Of course there was trouble, I let off crackers once at school and once threw some small ones under a car to see what would happen. How that lady identified me from school photos I'll never know.
This obsessiveness was repeated years later, when as teenager I would walk up and down every aisle in the Rugby ground and collect any left programmes. Sometimes I got as many as 12, sometimes only 4. Some were beer soaked, others screwed up, the odd one still in mint condition. All were taken in and necessary repairs done. I was quite often disgusted the way other people did not look after important things like this. There was always something being flattened under my carpet during my childhood, tickets, magazines, posters. I loved getting every last crease out of things.
I never thought of myself as any different to any other kid at school, but looking back maybe I was more quirky in some ways. I never thought an 11 year old reading a 900 page tomb on the history of All Black Rugby was anything unusual, I simply knew a lot lot more on some subjects than my peers. With most other things I was at the same level, and some things I had no interest in whatsoever, so therefore I knew nothing at all.
Mostly I struggled with disecting various information fed to me.
Life was all highs or lows nothing in between. Balance is something I've always struggled with, I'm always moving if not physically then mentally, always struggling with too many thoughts so my brain feels overloaded.
Sometimes the everyday things are difficult and I really have to remind myself to be thankful for all the good things in my life.